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In January, San Diego Magazine put Colin Rice on its “50 People to Watch in 2010” list, reporting that the loyal ex-aide and political advisor to former assemblyman and insurance-company lobbyist Juan Vargas, who narrowly won the Democratic primary for a state senate seat in June, had “recently joined the Amerland Group, an affordable-housing developer.” As it’s turned out, there’s been plenty to watch for. In June, Amerland cofounders Jules Arthur and Ruben Islas of La Jolla, longtime Vargas backers, as well as three other workers for the San Diego–based company, were arrested here and subsequently pled not guilty in Solano County Superior Court to a bevy of criminal counts of manslaughter and elder abuse stemming from an August 15, 2008 blaze that killed three residents of the historic Casa de Vallejo, a taxpayer-subsidized low-income senior housing complex run by Amerland in downtown Vallejo. Two civil suits alleging that managers ignored fire codes and didn’t fix the building’s faulty fire alarm have since been lodged against the defendants and Amerland.

Vargas isn’t the only local politico to pick up financial support from Amerland. According to congressional disclosure records, last year the company paid $10,000 to the Washington firm of Hessel, Aluise and Neun to lobby on “matters relating to the U.S. Department of Human Development.” And City records show that this May 12 Arthur contributed $500 to the successful reelection bid of San Diego city councilman Tony Young; giving the same were director of acquisitions Casey Haeling and Rice, identified as Amerland’s vice president of acquisitions. In May of last year, Rice gave $250 to the legal defense fund of Councilman Ben Hueso, currently a Democratic candidate for state assembly. In 2008, Councilman Todd Gloria got a total of $1350 from Arthur, Rice, and other Amerland employees. In May of last year, Amerland bought Golden Age Apartments on South 36th Street here, using federal money in a subsidized housing deal made possible by the City. Young made the February 2009 motion to approve the arrangement, seconded by Hueso. The vote was 8-0. In the wake of the Amerland controversies, Haeling and Rice (who were not named in the fire case) announced they were going it alone and forming C & C Development, which is also seeking the council’s financing help.

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Comments

HonestGovernment Sept. 2, 2010 @ 6:10 p.m.

Gloria, Hueso, Vargas, and their donors: BAD people! How can we get rid of them? Their involvement in politics needs to be stopped.

And now, Hueso's brother? Please, voters, make these really bad people go away.

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SurfPuppy619 Sept. 2, 2010 @ 7:40 p.m.

Gloria, Hueso, Vargas, and their donors: BAD people! How can we get rid of them? Their involvement in politics needs to be stopped.

And now, Hueso's brother? Please, voters, make these really bad people go away.

Hueso is dirty, and yes he needs to go.

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JGP Sept. 3, 2010 @ 1:56 p.m.

First off it was a terrible accident and i cant believe that anyone involved in this situation feels any other way. From getting your friend a job at the pizza joint because you know the manager all the way up to the president there will all ways be connections made in business, and to say that this inherently makes you a bad person far off the mark. At the end of the day a tragedy happened is pointing out that people in business and in politics happen to know each other really that surprising.

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Founder Sept. 3, 2010 @ 4:03 p.m.

Maybe if we repeat the same message everyday folks might catch on!

Please, No More Greedy Politicians in SD

The real problem in San Diego is that many of these Political Candidates "groupies" vote for these losers so that their gravy train or personal power remains in place...

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HonestGovernment Sept. 4, 2010 @ 12:24 a.m.

JGP, your feelings are valid. But if you've been watching what certain public officials have done over many years, and you observe a consistent behavioral pattern that more than allows you to conclude that the officials are not driven to act straightforwardly as representatives for the good of the people, then ....

The logical thing to do is to keep an eye everything they do, and everyone with whom they do business. And to try to stop them, because they are undeserving. Maybe "bad" is too harsh and simplistic. So, undeserving, of the job.

If I could help a friend get a job at the pizza joint, fine. That's great. But if I get to eat free pizza and you don't, and you have to pay more to cover my freebies, that's not great. And so on.

But I like your empathy.

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JGP Sept. 12, 2010 @ 7:34 p.m.

In this case i cant see where your logic follows here Q "are not driven to act straightforwardly as representatives for the good of the people, then ..." theses public officals did exactly what there were uposed to do they voted in a company that is in the business of supplying elderly housing and gave them the job, if they didnt get it another company would have. Q "So, undeserving, of the job." At that time they were no more or less undeserving than the next company that would have had the job had they not been chosen. Mabe you know something i dont, I cant see here where anything is Free, regardless of politicians being politicans and business men being business men we will all just have to sit back and let a jury of our piers decide.

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